Do You Wear a Watch?

Do you wear a watch?

By watch I mean an analog device, with hands sweeping around a dial, possibly augmented by “complications” as they are known, and all designed to look good on your wrist.

Further – do you own more than one?

For example, one with a leather band for dressing up…maybe one with a rubber strap for the beach or workouts…maybe a steel one for work.

Possibly you are in possession of an heirloom watch – one passed down the generations and now on your wrist…and one day on the wrists of your descendants.

Or do you just look at the time on your smartphone because you are so digital…?

Personally…I love watches. I have big clunky ones, finer thinner ones, steel bands, leather straps, diver types, Swatch, and I do often wear my late grandfather’s watch that I had cleaned and refurbished and one day hope to see my oldest grandson Henry wear as part of the chain of life.

And yes – I do look at the time on my Windows Phone on occasion.

Why am I waxing on about watches?

By all accounts this should have been a dead industry. Finished. An anachronism. Limited to museums and displays. Yet by all accounts it’s a thriving business. In fact, there has been a resurgence of non-battery, non-quartz, non-digital watches – automatic watches – that require you to wear them or to put them in special spinning cases to keep them wound and working.

And one just has to look at high-end retail or the wrists of men and women all over the world to see just how pervasive the watch culture has become…a true Generation World phenomenon…crossing age, region, socioeconomics and gender.

I remember the first digital watch I ever saw, close to 40 years ago. It was clunky, hard to read in certain light, very expensive (the same watch costs practically nothing today), and it was predicted to destroy the analog watch industry…who would want a dinosaur on their wrist?

Fast-forward to today and again I suggest a wrist check…you tell me.

Why is this important?

Because it’s another proof point of the perils of digibabble and the danger of believing that digital kills all in its wake.

However, what really inspired me to write about watches was the release of J.J. Abrams’ wildly elaborate and cool book, S.

Read up on the story and the fabulous pre-tease that surrounded its release (for you Super Bowl fans…note no “pre-release”). Many thought that this great director/creator of content, this digital doyen would surprise us with some on-line fantasy…maybe a game…perhaps a hint as to what he is planning for Star Wars.

Instead, together with Doug Dorst, he wrote, designed and published as old- fashioned a mystery as you could imagine, replete with maps, pictures, marginalia…all slipping out of the pages and all contained within a slipcase.

It’s a thing of beauty and fun to read – it’s also selling out.

No doubt there are those who say wait… the digital version will be better, more immersive, experiential…add your own digibabble phrases here….

NONSENSE…if there ever is a digital version – it will be different – not better…just different…and therein lies the point.

There is a growing renaissance of printed books…children’s books, classics, art books, new books. All beautifully designed (no doubt using digital tools and printing), printed on unique and wonderful papers, all with the purpose of creating special and amazing experiences (that word…) for the reader and something of value to own…a point to be considered.

My own grandchildren…who live on their iPads…love books – they love the illustrations, they love the type design, they love the paper and the special touches. They love the tactile feel and heft…they love to be read to.

Check out some of their favorites to understand why the experiential side of The Incredible Book Eating Boy, or I Want My Hat Back is different than reading it to them on my tablet.

And I am ready to bet that they will be reading to their children and grandchildren in much the same way.

Bottom line…experiences are not limited to any one medium or channel. They change and morph and influence us differently based on where and how we access them – and frankly, some might be best-suited for one channel over another. But it is rank digibabble to assume that all is over except for what you get on your screen…or through the cloud.

At the end of the day even Ender’s Game was ultimately real.

So there you have it – enduring versus ephemeral, real versus virtual, what is versus V2.76, valued versus monetized….listen:

“Substance is enduring, form is ephemeral.” Dee Hock

Long after Facebook and Twitter fold under the weight of what comes next and we stop using the word “digital” like it’s a religion, The Iliad and The Odyssey, complex watches and beautifully printed books will still be passed from generation to generation.

Think about that when you are out buying holiday gifts and maybe substitute a present and future treasure for the latest greatest app….

What do you think?



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